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Backbench Business — Palestine and Israel

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 8:40 pm on 13th October 2014.

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Photo of Bob Stewart Bob Stewart Conservative, Beckenham 8:40 pm, 13th October 2014

In the past, my problem with fully supporting Palestinian statehood has been the fact that Hamas—designated a terrorist organisation by the UK, as well as the United States, the European Union and other countries such as Australia—is so closely linked with the Government there. I remain concerned by the indiscriminate rocket attacks into Israel from Gaza, as well as the support given to other terrorist activities.

Article 57 of the Geneva convention, which I studied when I was the commander in Bosnia, is the key. It states that constant care must be taken to spare civilians from being hurt. It stresses that those who plan or decide on any attack must do everything feasible to verify that the objectives attacked are not close to civilians. It is absolutely clear that the military wing of Hamas, by its rocket attacks on Israeli territory and its association with west bank terrorism, such as the abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers in August this year, pays scant attention to that fundamental humanitarian law.

I have criticised, too, Israeli military actions in south Lebanon, the west bank and Gaza for quite a few years —even before I was a Member. In my view, the Israeli defence force, whatever the reason or military requirement, has breached article 57 on occasion, too. After all, it is indisputable that large numbers of civilians have been killed as a result of IDF operations in Gaza this summer.